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I'm trying to meaningfully display longitudinal changes in lab test results to a lay (not necessarily stats literate) audience.

longitudinal lab test results

I currently show scatterplots with bands to indicate normal vs abnormal ranges but worry that I might not be conveying the magnitude of improvement/deterioration. All data points in the scatterplot are results for the same test and the methodology can be assumed to be identical.

I also worry that for patients with lots of data points, scatterplots can become noisy. I would appreciate feedback on appropriate visualization schemes for a lay audience.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you say more about your situation, your data, & the analysis / model? What is it you want them to understand after having seen your presentation? $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Jun 10 '15 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ The data is from patients who go in to get tested when there's a clinical indication (symptoms) and the analyses plan isn't finalized but will likely be simply comparing Mean +/- SD between periods (Ex years). After seeing the chart, I'd like them to appreciate whether they are trending upwards or downwards or not changing. $\endgroup$ – lajulajay Jun 10 '15 at 21:11
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If you typically have enough data points, you might consider drawing a smoothed curve based on a flexible approach like LOWESS. That can help display trends in scatterplot data. You will have to determine curve-smoothing parameters to balance out emphasis of long-term trends over short-term glitches, and decide whether to use robust methods that might be less affected by outliers. I'd recommend showing the individual data points too, although perhaps with less emphasis than for the smoothed curve. Work to make sure that the trends of the curves you display actually correspond to your clinical decisions about trends; detecting trends in noisy data with few points is extremely difficult.

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